Vuelta Stage 2: Chaves lights up Caminito del Rey

The Vuelta always gives us something interesting and today was no exception. It was the first summit finish of the Vuelta today but the GC guys weren’t the ones making the noise. UPDATE: Except for Vincenzo Nibali, who was thrown off the race for blatantly hanging onto his team car to catch back up to the peloton after his crash.

Rider of the stage

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It’s the possessor of the biggest, brightest smile of the peloton and winner of this stage, Orica-GreenEDGE’s Esteban Chaves. With the main peloton splintered due to a gigantic crash, it looked like Movistar and Katusha favourites of Valverde and Rodriguez were in the right position to duke it out on the final climb. But no! From a thinned out group, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) made a big dig with 3km to go, taking Nico Roche (Sky), Tom Dumoulin (Giant), and Louis Meintjes (MTN-Qhubeka) with him. At the 2km mark, substitute Chaves for Meintjes and drop Quintana and you have the top three.

Chaves held his nerve on the steepest parts of the climb, even though Roche and Dumoulin – who both looked nearly spent – were trying to keep the young Colombian at the front. Roche came unstuck first, about 500m from the finish, then Chaves just let Dumoulin crack and swept past him to win his first grand tour stage.

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Ever the gentleman, he thanked his team, then he started laughing as he told Juan Antonio Flecha:

We talked among ourselves and how to deal with everyone around us and the main thing to do was to attack these guys so that’s what we did. Roche and Dumoulin were good company and we got there in the end.

Three things we didn’t like so much

1 No more slowing for crashes Yes, I know this is a race, yes, I know this is a sport so you don’t have to remind me of that. But I still have a problem with teams drilling it on the front when there’s a big crash behind when they were just tootling along prior to it. They weren’t racing hard when it happened today, it wasn’t a critical juncture in the race, it was the second stage of a 21-stage race. Sure, you can’t stop the race for everything, but do you have to go like bats out of hell when there are so many guys down – and a few badly injured? You can’t wait for a minute or two? You can’t? Okay then, don’t whine about unsportsmanlike behavior when it happens to you. Because it will.

2 GC shake-up already? Of course, one of the reasons why Katusha, Movistar and Sky picked up the pace after today’s crash was because Vincenzo Nibali and a few of his teammates were caught right in the middle of it. At one point, His Nibs was over a minute down from the peloton and they were nearing the 10km mark. But with the hard work done by teammate Dario Cataldo, Nibblets catches the peloton well before the last climb began. But how much will that sustained effort cost him this week?

UPDATE: Now we see how Nibs got back into the peloton. This is the most ridiculous example of a sticky bottle at speed. He has now been disqualified, as has DS Alexander Schefer – they’re packing their bags and heading home. Disgraceful behaviour and the jury was right in kicking them out.

3 Riders down Lampre’s Przemyslaw Niemiec and IAM’s David Tanner looked to have the most severe injuries (although Astana’s Paolo Tiralongo looked like he’d been in a prize fight – and didn’t win) as both went down hard in today’s crash. After a long spell of roadside medical assistance for the riders, they then left the race in ambulances bound for the hospital. At the time of writing, we don’t have any word on the extent of either’s injuries (Lampre said it might be a ‘strong blow to the head’ for Niemiec), but both were moving and talking by the time the ambulances arrived. We wish them both a speedy recovery.

Stage 2 result

1 Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE) 3:57:25
2 Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) +0.01
3 Nicolas Roche (Team Sky) +0:09
4 Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) +0:14
5 Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) +0:26

General classification

1 Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE) 3:57:25
2 Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) +0.01
3 Nicolas Roche (Team Sky) +0:09
4 Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) +0:14
5 Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) +0:26
6 Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +0:26
7 Christopher Froome (Sky) +0:30
8 Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +0:31
9 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Katusha) +0:31
10 Fabio Aru (Astana) +0:37

Points leader: Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE)

King of the Mountains leader: Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE)

Combined classification leader: Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE)

Team classification leader: Sky

Link: Official race website

4 thoughts on “Vuelta Stage 2: Chaves lights up Caminito del Rey

  1. I actually don’t believe he did it because he wanted to be kicked off the race – this is such a huge blow to his reputation and there was no way of knowing that the jury *would* throw him out. I think he did it because he panicked with how far down he was, the DS thinking they could sneak it past and the pressure to deliver results. Incredibly stupid.

  2. I really don’t want to believe he did it on purpose either, but it’s only the 2nd day, he shouldn’t be panicking … well, maybe just a little bit

    I see he’s now “apologized” and is blaming Caleb Ewing for the crash.

    Vincenzo, I think it’s time to find a new team. I don’t trust those guys.

    In any case, REALLY looking forward the rest of the race. I love the Vuelta because it doesn’t come with all the “hoopla” and drama of the Tour and it does it’s own thing.

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